Sucker Free City Spike Lee

BY Erin OkePublished Nov 17, 2016

Sucker Free City, the latest effort from the prolific Spike Lee, takes some of the director's classic themes — urban turmoil and culture clashes — while transporting the action from his regular NYC turf to San Francisco. The film centres around three young men of different races who are all involved in illegal activities in their own neighbourhoods. Nick (Ben Crowley) is a white boy from the Mission District who uses his mailroom corporate day job to steal credit card numbers. Keith (Anthony Mackie), aka K-Luv, is a member of the V-Dub gang in the poor, predominantly black Hunter's Point area. Lincoln (Ken Leung) is an up-and-comer in the Chinese Mafia and spends his days collecting extortion money from local businesses. The trouble starts when these guys start to infringe on each others' territories. Nick's hippie parents buy a house in Hunter's Point, inviting ridicule and harassment from the V-Dubs, while the bootlegging of hip-hop CDs in Chinatown sends K-Luv and his crew into conflict with Lincoln and the Mafia. Sucker Free City was made as a pilot for the upcoming series on the U.S. network Showtime and thus has to spend a lot of time setting up the characters while not resolving everything. Spike Lee dips into his usual bag of tricks to give the film a great visual flair with extreme lighting palettes in the vein of Traffic. Alex Tse's script makes some really interesting observations about cultural appropriation and exchange. The characters are quite compelling, hardly redeeming in their professional lives, but have enough moments of vulnerability and even tenderness in their personal lives to keep you interested. (40 Acres/A Mule)

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